Eiland's Online English Materials

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© Janet Parke

Film as Literature: Evaluating Film as Literature

Evaluating Film as Literature requires attention to detail, understanding of both cinematic and literary terms, and a script. This is not a film appreciation class, so I am not concerned whether or not you LIKE a particular film, but I am concerned whether or not you understand how it may be evaluated from different critical perspectives and discussed using those literary terms, such as irony, conflict, symbolism and the like. Essentially, we will be analyzing these films for their literary content, social context, and common themes as expressed through dialogue as well as other cinematic elements. Our primary focus is to determine the various responses different audiences would have to these works when viewed through the lenses of various critical perspectives, such as historical, gender-based or Marxist critical perspectives.

Furthermore, we are going to analyze some of the standard genres and motifs used in filmmaking in terms of both content and artistic approach. Specifically, we will be examining the adaptation of one work, such as an album or book, into a film, and how much of the original work is retained in the second work. We will also examine how generes affect audience expectation and also how genres are twisted, molded and modified to create new paradigms for cinema.

So what is required of you?

To begin with, you are, of course, expected to watch the film. You are also required to read through the textbook to understand how films are made and how directors, writers and cinematographers get their ideas across through this particular medium. Furthermore, you will need to be aware of the critical perspectives that we are using for analysis, as well as basic thematic literary terms, such as symbolism irony and the like. Finally, you need to do some research about the film itself... whether it is biographical information about the writer or director, whether it is historical context for the era in which the work was made, some background information about the topic under discussion (e.g. the Vietnam War for Coming Home) or other relevant information. That means you are likely going to also want to have at hand a copy of the movie, even though we are going to be watching these in class. Very often the DVDs include information from the director and/or the writer and other major elements in the making of the film that shed light on the film's genesis, its process and ultimately its meaning.

This course is in your hands. I expect you to find what is out there, bring it back into the classroom and add to the discussion. How interesting and enlightening this course is for you will depend largely on you. Get involved. Have fun.

Works Cited

Giannetti, Louis. Understanding Movies. 11th ed. Pearson/Prentice hall, 2008.

© T. T. Eiland, August, 2006
Last modified: January 19, 2008